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Standing on 1 Leg

Standing on one leg is quite tricky….

Recent research has shown that people who can’t stand on one leg for more than 20 seconds may also have a greater risk of stroke or dementia. I routinely check to see whether my clients are able to balance on one leg for a number of reasons.

Sometimes our standing balance deteriorates due to weakness of an ankle or knee, which results in increased load on the unaffected side. This can make walking or running difficult and may result in back or hip pain.

Ability to stand on one leg also correlates strongly with a risk of falls. When we assess people who are at risk of falls, a standing balance time of less than 10 seconds combined with a person’s ability to perform other dynamic balance tests is a gold standard test. This lack of stability may indicate a range of problems such as  weakness, lack of sensation, inner ear disturbance or visual problems, just to name a few.

Standing on one leg is something we do more times in a day than you might imagine. Walking involves controlled movement from one leg to the other. A distinct phase in gait is the stance phase. At this point one leg is on the ground while the other leg begins to move forward. It is very important that this standing leg is stable, or the body will move in an uncontrolled fashion over it. This puts greater stress on other muscle groups and can result in pain, tightness and instability.

Walking up stairs requires standing on one leg, as does getting dressed standing up. Putting one leg into trousers requires considerable balance and coordination. But even before these activities become an issue, we stand on one leg to get in and out of the car, to look under a shoe, to defend at netball, or to practise a yoga pose.

Checking someone’s ability to stand on one leg is not a difficult thing to do. Try it for yourself. Stand on one leg without holding on to anything and see how long you can do it for. If you can manage 30 seconds or more then it probably isn’t an issue. If you find you can’t do it at all, you need to look at why. You may be feeling pain, weakness, dizziness or a number of other symptoms. If you are you should consult your physio or GP. If you don’t, start a balance regime like I suggest my clients do. Try standing on one leg when you brush your teeth. This is something most of us do twice a day, so it’s a good opportunity to multi-task. One leg in the morning and the other at night. Of course make sure that you are on a dry, stable surface with something to grab onto safely if you do lose your balance. Within a few weeks you should find that your standing balance time has increased significantly.

If you are still having problems come in and see us at Balance Physio and we will assess you thoroughly and determine an appropriate program to get you underway.

This is a very easy problem to work on. You may be surprised how many of your friends and relatives struggle with it though. Test them out and spread the word. Lets all have better balance. Louise at Balance Physio

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